The Crossing at Kelly's Ford
Civil War cavalry battles could be huge, shifting, sprawling engagements, spread across miles of countryside. For instance, the Battle of Brandy Station, named for a railroad town eight miles away, began at historic Kelly's Ford in front of you.
On the morning of June 9, 1863, two Union cavalry divisions and an infantry brigade crossed the Rappahannock River here. This force of about 6,000 men and 18 cannon — half of an 11,000-man force hunting for Confederates in the Culpeper area — was under the command of Brig. Gen. David M. Gregg. The other Union column, under Brig. Gen. John Buford, had crossed the river earlier that morning at Beverly Ford, six miles to the north. The two wings planned to meet at Brandy Station before advancing on Maj. Gen. G.E.B. Stuart's cavalry.
Coordinating the movements of thousands of men, horses and wagons was one of the difficulties facing Civil War commanders. Though Gregg met little enemy opposition at the crossing of this ford, his schedule was already in shambles. Part of his command, the Second Cavalry Division under Col. Alfred Duffie', got lost and arrived late at the ford. For hours, Gregg waited for his subordinate and listened to the distant rumble of artillery fire from Beverly Ford, where Buford engaged the Confederates.
After Duffie's troops appeared, Gregg sent them southwest across Mountain Run towards Stevensburg. He ordered Duffie then to head to Brandy Station from there. Gregg soon found his own progress on the direct road to Brandy (now Route 674) blocked by a small brigade of North Carolina cavalry led by Brig. Gen. Beverly Robertson. The Federal general instructed his attached infantry brigade to push the Confederates back while he took his own Third Cavalry Division on the same road as Duffie's column. Halfway to Stevensburg, Gregg turned his men north towards Brandy Station. He hoped that this sidestep would get him to the fighting in time to help Buford.
Help Preserve Battlefields, call CWPT at 1-888-606-1400 www.civilwar.org · The Hallowell Foundation generously contributed toward the interpretation of this site in memory of Carrington Williams.This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.